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Tropico Review

publisher: Gathering
developer: PopTop Software
genre: Management

P200, 32MB RAM, 820MB HDD
ESRB rating: T

release date: Apr 23, 01
» All About Tropico on ActionTrip

Describing Tropico is easy: it's a sim-city management game with a political twist. And as its title suggests, the game is set on one of many tropical islands that once belonged to Cuba, and are now yours to rule over and exploit. Wow, what an original way to start a review! I could've just gone for the ole': "how beautiful and rewarding it would be to rule as a dictator". Instead, I chose this incredibly unique and refreshing approach by describing the game in a couple of sentences! It must be because my mother frequently dropped me on the head when I was a child. How else would you explain the fact that I'm an editor at Action Trip? I mean, the only true job requirement here is "that you had been dropped by one of your parents, or a family chimp on the head in your early childhood". If you could just take a look at some of the editors that are sleeping around the office now; ugly-ass, fat, lazy slobs sleeping on the job, while I write this review of Tropico. Which reminds me; this is supposed to be a GAME review, right?

I can't help but write a casual introduction to this game (I couldn't write a decent introduction even if I wanted to), cause the game has that laid back, tropical air about it... Have you ever been to one of these "banana republics"? Kind of like Mexico, only much more laid back. And they really hate tourists, but they can't live without them, so we have that love and hate thing going on all the time. This is only natural of course, because that's how everything goes with these "banana states". Women will cut your balls off if you cheat on them, and they'll love you passionately if you're clever enough not to get caught. Neighbors are prone to kill each other over whose cock is zestier (get your mind out of the gutter), and they'll drink tequila and sing songs only minutes later.

But what the hell does all this have to do with the game you ask. Well it does, I tell ya! I'm trying to get you in the right mood here... Imagine a warm, warm breeze on your face, the smell of coconut, and the gentle tunes of Latino music flowing across the beautiful, clear sea. A bloody Coup De Etat is under way, and you're about to become El Presidente! Wow, what a life! It's time to move on from the sugar plantations and enjoy the good life! Your presidential palace awaits you as soon as they get rid of the filthy dictator who has ruined our beautiful island (I spit on him, hard - twice) and turned it into a rotten pit of crime and corruption. BAM, BAM, BAM! -- the old president has been shot in the backyard, and now it is time for you to grip the horns of power and lead your people to prosperity and wealth!

You know, it's never like that with dictators; or should I say, it is always like that... They come to power feeling all altruistic and full of hope, and then somewhere along the way, they realize they can have any chick on the island and that they're entitled to smoke the fattest and nastiest Cubans around. Romans said it best when they said: "Power corrupts, and absolute power is like a bucket of funny pills." or something along those lines.

Tropico is divided into two basic game types; you can either play one of the pre-defined scenarios, or choose to create a custom game by determining parameters like: vegetation, population, economy, political stability, victory conditions, etc (hey, you can even become Che Gevara or Lou Bega - Mambo No. 5). All of these factors influence the game's difficulty level. If you go for the pre-defined scenarios (and there's not a whole lot of them. I reckon about ten, or even less) you'll be given a task of achieving various goals in a 50 year timeframe, like: stay in power, or build up the economy, or I dunno, stash away a bundle of money to your private bank account in Switzerland. As El Presidente you have ultimate political and economical control on a macro level, but your citizens do have free will and are likely to rebel against you in the same way you've rebelled against the former dictator (may his bones forever rot in Hell, El Presidente). You can choose to be a benevolent democrat, or you can decide to build up your militia so that all potential revolutionaries meet a swift and painful death. You can play it both ways, but you get to do it on a macro level. Now, how does that work? Say for example I wanted to order Benito (all citizens on the island have their unique characteristics and stats) to work as a farmer. I couldn't simply pick up his ass and drop him on a farm (B&W style). Instead, I raise the pay for the farmers who wish to work on a particular farm and thus Benito has enough incentive to become a farmer.

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7.8   Good

Plenty of interesting buildings to build; nice tunes, sharp graphics. Adds a whole new political dimension to the genre;

Scenarios could've used a bit of work - they're too short. Gameplay dynamics a little off, because of the game speed issue. The game needed a good and constantly unfolding plot to tie all the pieces together.


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